DOOR COUNTY – Do you think you might want to take a trip inside a Door County cave?
It may be possible after leaders approved a plan to manage Horseshoe Bay Cave Tuesday morning.
The cave is located just south of Egg Harbor, near Frank Murphy Park and the Horseshoe Bay Golf Course.
DNR conservation biologist Jennifer Redell checked data at the cave near Egg Harbor.
“We have a small number of bats that are tagged,” said Redell.
But soon, the public could be crawling through the damp caves as well.
“The cave is very people-friendly in the front section. And we hope to have that open to people with limited physical ability, and interest, and further back, people will have to have a little more training, and equipment,” said Bill Schuster, Door County conservationist.
Door County owns about 75 feet of the cave near the entrance. An estimated 3,000 feet of tunnels runs under the golf course nearby.
The county board unanimously approved its part of the plan, now the Horseshoe Bay Golf Club is expected to take up the issue.
“There are still some other things that need to be worked out though, including an access agreement. That we anticipate working through between now and the fall,” said Randy Rose, Horseshoe Bay Golf Club.
And the DNR says about 1,250 bats make their winter home in the cave, more than any other in the state. Scientists say protecting bats from people and the disease White Nose Syndrome is a priority.
“That would involve things like dedicated gear, so that folks that are visiting this cave aren’t inadvertently transferring that disease,” said Redell.
But not everyone is on board with the county’s plan. The Wisconsin Speleological Society wants to dig out sediment from the cave, sooner than later.
“You have formations and stuff like that. You’re not purposely going to do it, but you’re going to bump your head, with your shoulders, with your back. We want to keep people away from the ceiling,” said Kasey Fiske, Wisconsin Speleological Society chairman.
County leaders say they aren’t opposed to digging, just not now.
“I think the danger is the unknown. You need to make some determinations as to whether those changes are good or bad,” said Schuster.
County leaders say if everything goes according to plan, Horseshoe Bay Cave could be open for tours next summer.